Friday, November 27, 2015

The Dark Side of Tribal Sovereignty: NO RIGHTS to GAY Marriage

This issue is gaining some notoriety.  Tribal sovereignty harms whoever the tribes want to harm, be it gays, disenrolled and people who speak out:

Cleo Pablo married her longtime partner when gay weddings became legal in Arizona and looked forward to the day when her wife and their children could move into her home in the small Native American community outside Phoenix where she grew up.

That day never came. The Ak-Chin Indian Community doesn't recognize same-sex marriages and has a law that prohibits unmarried couples from living together. So Pablo voluntarily gave up her tribal home and now is suing the tribe in tribal court to have her marriage validated.

"I want equal opportunity," Pablo said. "I want what every married couple has."

Pablo's situation reflects an overlooked story line following the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision this year that legalized gay marriages nationwide: American Indian reservations are not bound by the decision and many continue to forbid gay marriages and deny insurance and other benefits.

The reasons vary and to some extent depend on cultural recognition of gender identification and roles, and the influence of outside religions, legal experts say. Other issues like high unemployment, alcoholism and suicides on reservations also could be higher on the priority list, said Ann Tweedy, an associate professor at the Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, who has studied tribes' marriage laws.

Advocacy groups largely have stayed away from pushing tribes for change, recognizing that tribes have the inherent right to regulate domestic relations within their boundaries.

"Tribal sovereignty is very important to tribes," Tweedy said. "They don't want to just adopt what the U.S. does."

Pablo follows in the footsteps of a handful of other tribal members in Oregon, Washington state and Michigan who lobbied their governments for marriage equality.

The Navajo Nation is one of a few of the country's 567 federally recognized tribes that have outright bans on gay marriage. Some tribes expressly allow it, while others tie marriage laws to those of states or have gender-neutral laws that typically create confusion for gay couples on whether they can marry.

The mish-mash occurs because tribes are sovereign lands where the U.S. Constitution doesn't apply.

But Pablo argues in her lawsuit that members of the Tribal Council are violating the Ak-Chin constitution by denying her equal protection and due process — rights also guaranteed under the federal Indian Civil Rights Act. Her lawyer, Sonia Martinez, said tribal members could have a persuasive argument against gay-marriage bans if their tribe incorporated federal constitutional rights into tribal laws, which she says is the case on the Ak-Chin reservation.

The Ak-Chin Indian Community wouldn't comment directly on Pablo's lawsuit but said marriage laws are a matter for the tribe to decide, not the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Whether our current law stays the same or needs to change, it must still be addressed in a manner that best promotes and protects the community's sovereignty and right of self-governance, and best reflects the culture, tradition, and morals of the community and all of its members within the confines of our laws," read a statement provided to The Associated Press.

Change for some tribes came easily.

The Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska enacted a marriage statute in March to expand court services. Chief Justice Debra O'Gara said leaders talked more about whether to allow members of the same clan to marry than members of the same sex.

"There was very little controversy over the same gender aspect because everybody believed it should be open," she said. "Whoever our citizens are should have the same rights as everyone else."


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Anonymous said...

I am usually behind you on most Posts Rick, but sorry, I do not have any sympathy for this one. This is a choice she made and knew they would not be with her, and of course she is going to sue, it must be a homosexual thing to sue someone the second they stand by their own rules. She is choosing to live in whiteman's world in her belief of thinking it is okay, which is fine for her and her significant other, then she should live in the whiteman's world where she will have all the rights she needs. Just my opinion, but this is not a disenrollment thing, because disenrolment is not a choice against the tribal beliefs, it is a crime against the people. Disenrollees are not going against the beliefs of the tribe.

Anonymous said...

becky this is not a love site.

Anonymous said...

"Rick Cuevas misses the mark again." That should be the headline.

Anonymous said...

Douche at 1:48 am....Rick has done more for real tribal members than you will ever do. You are afraid he will shine the light on your bullshit practices. Go run and hide like a good cockroach....

Anonymous said...

you mean ex tribal members 1:25